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Efficiency of doctors, hospitals: IPO asks FIA to probe into unauthorised use of research work

Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan has asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the biggest intellectual property right case of the world where a copyrighted medical research work created to measure efficiency of doctors/hos
04 Dec, 2019

Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan has asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the biggest intellectual property right case of the world where a copyrighted medical research work created to measure efficiency of doctors/hospitals was allegedly used by an international company without its creator's permission.

In this regard, the IPO-Pakistan has written a letter to the FIA for probing different aspects of the case including record of previous litigation between parties to establish whether the infringement has been occurred or not. The applicant Dr Syed Iqbal Raza may be called for inquiry along with documentary evidence that the software/research work is registered in Pakistan/abroad and its consequences and necessary evidence may be collected to establish whether the applicant has any right and the same can be agitated against the respondent company, the letter further said.

The IPO-Pakistan has also asked the FIA if any offence is established, necessary action may be taken as per law.

Earlier, IPO-Pakistan had fully endorsed Dr Raza's right to protect alleged infringement of copyright being a right holder by an international company.

The IP Tribunal has also issued an order referring the matter to the concerned court in USA for finalization of the matter, in context of the breach of agreement.

The owner of the intellectual property, Dr Syed Iqbal Raza, has requested the FIA to register an FIR against the company under the relevant provisions of the law.

Dr Syed Iqbal Raza, a Pakistani doctor who created the research work/ spreadsheet product, is now being owned by an international company and the man behind the research is fighting from Islamabad's Session Court to the District Court of Delaware in the United States to claim his intellectual property rights.

Dr Iqbal Raza wanted to develop a standard method to determine the efficiency of doctors, nurses and technicians along with medical teams and hospitals in a scientific manner. He had relevant qualification and experience of hospital management as member of Commissioning Team of Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, in 1986. Dr Raza is a graduate of King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and University of Liverpool, UK. He had also studied 'Health Services Management' from Tulane University, New Orleans, USA, as a Hubert H Humphrey fellow.

He developed a unique questionnaire with more than 3,500 research questions, requiring statistical data input. The questionnaire was then sent to 200 medical professionals in leadership and supervisory roles around the world, 104 of whom responded. By May 2000, he could smell the sweet scent of success as the answers to the problems faced in the hospitals kept pouring in. With the help of this huge research data, he was able to develop a landmark spread sheet and methodology, which could tell exactly how to measure efficiency of a doctor, nurse, technician/para medic, a medical team, a ward and a hospital. The software was experimented successfully at NIH (now NIRM), CGH Rawalpindi, Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi, DHQ Hospital Rawalpindi, and Children Hospital, PIMS. This massive research and the spreadsheet product thus obtained was named as Dr SIR-104.

Referring to the research, Dr Raza informed Business Recorder that the government or a private administrator would know exactly how efficiently their health facilities are run and what exactly was the reason for deficiency. The method developed by Dr Raza received immediate recognition in professional community and even the World Health Organization (WHO). A prototype of Dr SIR-104 was developed and was put in "All Pakistan National Software Competition (Professional category)" on September 12, 2002 where it won the first prize. He also shared 161 pages summary of Dr SIR-104 with the said international company in 2000.

Dr Raza was very happy that his work is being acknowledged and some companies showed interest in Dr SIR-104. In 2003, when Dr Raza was briefing a CEO of a group at his office in Lahore on April 21, 2003, he was informed that an international company had created a strikingly similar product/software for the health sector. When he checked this international company's website, he came to know that the said software was announced almost one year and one month after the 'Dr SIR-104' summary was handed over to this international company. The beta trails took place two-and-a-half-year after the receipt of the summary. No study was ever mentioned then or even till today that led to the development of the allegedly infringed portion of the software.

A number of letters were exchanged between Dr Raza and the said company in which while acknowledging the receipt of Dr SIR-104 summary, they denied having ever used this information. Interestingly, the similarities between the two systems were never mentioned and any study or research conducted in this regard was never stated (even till today).

Dr Raza filed a case against the infringement of his intellectual property in the court of Senior Civil Judge, Islamabad on 8th September 2003. The proceedings in the court of Senior Civil Judge, Islamabad were in progress when the proceedings were stayed through the orders of the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court dated 14.7.2005. However, later both the parties withdrew their cases from this forum.

Dr Raza then filed a case against the company in the USA. The case was filed in the District Court of Delaware in February / March 2006. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, through its order dated August 23rd, 2011 sent notice for Mediation. As a result of mediation, an agreement was signed between Dr Raza and the company on September 30, 2013. The agreement was based on the premise that "the international company denies having any access to, possession, copy, or misappropriation of any information contained in Dr SIR-104. In the said Agreement, Dr Raza's intellectual property was clearly defined and the international company agreed not to dispute that Dr Raza owns 'Raza Material'.

In May 2015, Dr Raza discovered that the international company has sold the IP Dr SIR-104 to another company despite the agreement.

Dr Raza thus filed a complaint with the FIA, which was challenged by the said company in the court. Later special bench of the Islamabad High Court observed, "The net result in the light of analysis of law is that the appropriate forum against infringement of Intellectual Property Rights is Intellectual Property Organization which is empowered to deal with such issues and as such, none of the law enforcement agencies can initiate inquiry in any matter relating to the infringement of copy rights unless the same has been referred by Intellectual Property Organization to any law enforcement agency.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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